Warner Surname Genealogy

surname Warner derived from the German personal name Warnier, comprised
of the elements warin,
meaning “guard,” and hari,
meaning “soldier” or “army.” The main surname to emerge was
Werner. Meanwhile, the Warnier name was brought to
England by the Normans after the Conquest. A Robert Warnier was
recorded in the Dorset pipe rolls of 1196. In time Warnier became
Warner in England has another origin, from the French warriner, a keeper of hares,
rabbits, partridges, pheasants and the like. The word warriner in
fact stayed in English use up to the 17th century, as in one of Cobbe’s
prophecies of 1614:

“The warriner knows there are rabbits
in breeding!”

The surname Warner here would designate someone who lived near a game
park or was employed in one.

Resources on

Warner Ancestry

The Werner surname first
surfaced in lower Saxony in SE Germany and was also to be found in
Baden in SW Germany. They came
to America as Werners or Verners, Warners or even Wanners.

England. Early English
sightings of the Warner surname were in East Anglia in the 14th

East Anglia A
Warner family held Warner Hall in Great Waltham, Essex at that
time. The Warner name continued to be found there. One line
of these Warners, who prospered as merchants in London, moved north to
country estate at Parham in Suffolk. Meanwhile, there has
been a Warner family involved in the silk industry in Essex since the
17th century. Warner & Sons established
themselves in Braintree in 1870 and operated there for just over a

Other Warners traced from Besthorp, near Shropham in Norfolk.
John Warner of this family, dying without heirs in 1374, left his
possessions to a Cheshire knight under the condition that he assume the
Warner name. This he did and the line, based in Mildenhall in
Suffolk, continued to Sir Edward Warner, the Lieutenant of the Tower of
London during turbulent Tudor times. Then Warners of this
line, such as the gambler Edward Warner, frittered
the family position away.

Later distribution of the Warner name showed it spreading south to
London and the southeast and west into the Midlands.

London Harmon
Warner was a London merchant tailor in Elizabethan times.
His son, a royalist, was Bishop of Rochester (and the line then went
via a nephew to the Lee-Warners of Walsingham in Norfolk). Later
London Warners included:

  • the Warner family who developed the Hornsey
    suburb in the early 19th century
  • another Warner family who
    developed Walthamstow in the late 19th century.
  • then there was
    the Warner acting family, starting with grandfather James Warner, then
    father Charles Warner, and son H.B. Warner whose career straddled both
    silent and talkie movies.

Warners in the Midlands included a Warner family who held Wasperton
manor near Warwick in the 1660’s. Another Warner family was
engaged in the lace industry in Coleorton, Leicestershire from the
early 1700’s. The Warner family history of New Oxley House in
Wolverhampton began in 1820.

Ireland and Wales. Warner
in Ireland was probably an English implant, although in Cork it could
be Irish, an anglicization of the Gaelic name O’Murmain. Warners from
Macroon in Cork date from the early 1700’s. One family history
recorded a Warner family of farmers in Meath and Cork who moved to
Swansea in Wales in 1840. The Warners in Swansea included James Warner, a
bare-knuckle boxer
, and Larry Warner, a theater manager.

The origin for Warners in America
may have been from England, Ireland, Germany, or they may even have
been Jewish.

English Warners
From England came Augustine Warner, who arrived in Virginia in 1628 at
the age of seventeen. He was the progenitor of the Warner Lewis
family of Warner
one of Virginia’s leading colonial families.

Another early Warner line began with John Warner from Essex who arrived
in New England in the 1630’s and was an early settler of Farmington,
Connecticut. Son Andrew was one of the founders of Hartford,
Connecticut (Lucien Warner’s 1919 book The Descendants of Andrew Warner
covered this line). Descendants of these Warners included Colonel Seth
of the Green Mountain Boys, a Vermont militia group
at the time of the Revolutionary War.

Warners settled in Pennsylvania as well. Captain William Warner
came in 1675 and started the Blockley plantation (named after his
English home in Worcestershire). Twelve generations of his
family have been traced. Hayward Dare Warner’s 1971 book A Warner Family Narrative recorded
this history.

Benjamin Warner began a bookselling
company in Philadelphia which expanded in the 19th century to a very
large book publishing business. He and his brother Joseph owned
the Chamonix mansion in Fairmount Park. They are believed to have
been descended from the Joseph Warner who arrived in Philadelphia in

Irish Warners
From Dublin in Ireland came Wettenhall Warner sometimes in the
1760’s. He married, settled, and raised a family in Orangeburg,
South Carolina. Later Warners moved onto Louisiana and
Texas. A descendant J.T. Warner compiled a genealogy of the
family in 1894 which was incorporated into Russ Williams’ 1968 book Kinsmen All.

Some later Warners from Ireland were:

  • Henry Warner from Dublin who, it
    was said, “ran away and enlisted as a common sailor before the mast”
    and ended up in Pittsburgh
  • Warners who left Macroom in Cork for Boston in
    the 1830’s
  • and a Warner family who went from Cork to Texas in 1852.

German Warners
Christian Wanner’s family had come to upstate New York from Germany in
the 1700’s. He was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War.
When the War was over he changed his name to Warner and crossed the
border with his family into Niagara, Canada.

Other Warners who came from Germany were:

  • Anthony Warner, a brewer from Baden, who came with his wife
    Teresa to Nashville, Tennessee in 1835
  • Frank Warner from Baden who immigrated to upstate New York in 1852
  • Nicolis and Wilhelmina Warner from Hanover who went out to
    California in the 1860’s
  • and George and Mary Ann Warner from Baden who came to New Orleans
    in the 1860’s and later settled in Canton, Mississippi.

Then there was a Jewish family
from Poland who changed their name from Wonsal to Warner on their
arrival in America in the 1880’s. With his three brothers, Jack
Warner founded the Warner Brothers movie studio in
Hollywood after World War One. Warner Brothers were one of the
premiere filmmakers in Hollywood during the studio era.

It was a
Suffolk man, Thomas
, who established the first British settlement in the
Caribbean, in St. Kitts in 1624. A later relative, Joseph Warner,
rose to be one of the three leading English surgeons of his day and was
the first member of the College of Surgeons that was founded in 1750.

Many of Thomas’s descendants stayed in the Caribbean. The Warner
family dispersed over the Leeward Islands, some in Antigua, some in
Dominica, some in St. Vincent, and some in Trinidad. By the 19th
century the Warners were one of the most powerful families in
Trinidad. Perhaps the best-known of this family was Sir Pelham
Warner, the cricketing eminence grise.
His brother Aucher Warner wrote Sir
Thomas Warner, a Chronicle of His Family
in 1934. A more
recent Warner is Jack Warner, a controversial Trinidadian minister.

and New Zealand
Lieutenant Jonathan Warner arrived in Australia in 1826 on the Orpheus with the Royal New South
Wales Corps. He was posted to Newcastle, NSW and subsequently
settled with his family near Lake Macquarie. Warners Bay there
was named after him. Suzanne and Waldemar Lotocki’s 2008 book The Story of Lieutenant Jonathan Warner
and his Family
narrates this family’s story.

Warners from Alfriston in Sussex were early settlers in South
Australia, arriving there in 1840. James Warner of London, who
had come to Sydney in 1837, became a surveyor and was the first to
survey the northern territories of Australia in 1846. One of his
sons, also a surveyor, settled in Auckland, New Zealand.

Warner Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Warner Names

Sir Thomas Warner was a 17th century
sea captain and explorer. He settled in St. Kitts, which in 1624
was the first English colony in the Caribbean.
Ezra Warner was an American
inventor who patented the can opener in 1858.
Sir Pelham Warner, generally
known as Plum, was a leading English cricketer and administrator in the
early 1900’s.
Jack Warner was a Hollywood
studio mogul, the driving force behind Warner Brothers Studios.
His family was of Polish Jewish roots.

Select Warners

  • 20,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 30,000 in America (most numerous
    in California)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous
    in Australia)




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